ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – AdventHealth released its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans Thursday, a week before Pfizer could receive emergency use authorization approval from the FDA.
AdventHealth is one of five hospital systems in Florida selected by the state to store and distribute the vaccine.
Hospital officials said they could receive the first shipments of the Pfizer vaccine as early as mid-December after it gets emergency use authorization from the FDA, which is meeting next Thursday.
The hospital said it will get a “limited quantity” as part of the initial vaccine rollout. The hospital also said it will follow state and federal protocols on who gets the vaccine first, saying in its frequently asked questions it “will administer the vaccine to medical providers and team members working areas with the most exposure risk.”
AdventHealth said there is no exact date on when the vaccine will be more widely available, but they’re hopeful it could be as early as the spring.
Donna Walsh with the Seminole County health department said they’re projecting the public could start receiving the vaccine by the end of the first quarter in 2021.
“The more manufacturers that produce this vaccine and it’s available to us, then the quicker we’ll be able to get it out to the community. So there’s still some unknowns at this moment,” Walsh said.
Walsh and Seminole County Emergency Manager Alan Harris were on a statewide call Friday that focused on the vaccine distribution plan.
Harris said the state is expected to receive 170,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the first shipment, which could arrive the second or third week of December.
“We’re ready for any number, but that’s the number that we’ve been give so far,” Harris said.
Seminole County purchased four ultra-cold freezers to store the vaccine. Harris said they are doing what they can to be prepared.
“We wanted to be 100% ready when the vaccine comes here so within 24 hours we can get it into someone’s arm and I think we’ve successfully done that,” Harris said.
Harris said any extra vaccines sent to AdventHealth will go to other hospital systems in Central Florida.
To help reassure Floridians the vaccine is safe and effective, Walsh said the state is working on a messaging plan and that should roll out before the vaccine arrives.
Click here to visit AdventHealth’s new COVID-19 vaccine resource website.
Below are AdventHealth’s frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine:
Q: When will AdventHealth receive a COVID-19 vaccine?
A: The U.S. Food & Drug Administration is meeting Dec. 10 to discuss the request for emergency use authorization of a vaccine candidate. We do not have an exact date as of today, but the vaccine could be available as early as mid-December.
Q: Is AdventHealth able to store the vaccines that require freezers?
A: AdventHealth is prepared and able to safely store and administer the vaccine.
Q: What brand/manufacturer vaccine will AdventHealth receive initially?
Q: How many doses will AdventHealth receive?
A: We will receive a limited quantity as part of this initial rollout of the vaccine.
Q: Who will initially receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: Due to the expected limited initial supply, we will follow distribution guidelines as outlined by the federal and state governments, and National Academy of Medicine, which developed a tiered system. In following this protocol, AdventHealth will administer the vaccine to medical providers and team members working in areas with the most exposure risk.
Q: Can the general public receive a COVID-19 vaccine at this time?
A: No. Because of the limited supply, the general public cannot receive a vaccine today. AdventHealth does not have vaccines at its hospitals, physician practices or Centra Care facilities that are for the public at this time.
Q: Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?
A: Extensive clinical trials were conducted with thousands of participants to evaluate the COVID-19 vaccine and generate scientific data and other information for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to determine its safety and effectiveness. Additionally, AdventHealth’s COVID-19 Vaccine Scientific Review Committee, as an independent committee, reviewed the process which evaluated the efficacy and safety of the vaccine.
Q: How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?
A: The vaccine helps you develop antibodies that make you less susceptible to the disease. It does not use the live virus that causes COVID-19.
Q: When will a vaccine be available to the public?
A: There is no exact date, but we are hopeful it could be as early as the Spring.